Artist Travis Moore Talks Lemmy Kilmister Statue, Unveiling Event + Special Art Show
The death of Motorhead's iconic leader Lemmy Kilmister hit many hard, not only because of the amazing wealth of music he generated over the years but also because he was one of the music community's most outgoing and beloved figures. Tributes and testimonials about the man were seemingly endless around the time of his death, with many seeking to find the best ways they could honor the late singer. Whenever in Los Angeles, you could almost always find Lemmy hanging out at the Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip and it wasn't long after Lemmy's passing that fans and friends began to discuss the legendary hangout as the site for some sort of statue or memorial.
The Maglieri family, who have run the Rainbow for years, helped to set the plan in motion, and once there was talk of erecting a Lemmy statue, fans began to help raise the money and a number of artists expressed their interest in helping out. Among them was Travis Moore, a Los Angeles-based artist who has worked on pieces for the Maglieri family and has a history of with art involving top musicians, who ultimately came up with the winning proposal to create the statue. We recently spoke with artist Moore, who oversaw the creation of the statue that will be unveiled this Wednesday (Aug. 24) at the Rainbow Bar & Grill in Los Angeles. Check out our chat about the creation of the statue, his thoughts on the unveiling ceremony and he also discusses his own art show in Los Angeles on Thursday (Aug. 25) that will also pay homage to Lemmy Kilmister.
How did you first learn about the statue?
The first rumor I heard was about two or three days after the memorial. A friend of mine who had been at the memorial was talking about how there was talk of a statue and my friends at the 'Bow were thinking about putting it there, but there was no concrete plans. So about the first week in February, I saw a post that someone had started getting money together and Mikey, Mikeal Maglieri's son who runs the 'Bow and the Whisky now, had reposted that people were trying to raise money for a statue. So I reposted as well, and social media, oh my god, I repost and ask if I can help in some way, and I got a message back instantly. I told them initially that I would try to find some people. He asked if I knew someone and initially I was looking for someone else. I had done some stuff and worked with him in the past and I know that Mikeal and Mikey trusted me as an artist that there was someone I would know or that I would find the right people.
So I made a few calls. I called three foundries locally, just to get quotes and figure out what it would entail and figure out if we could do it locally. And after checking, I called them back and said, 'I think I have a solution for you. Just let me do it.' And they said, 'Not so fast, we have some other people who want to do it,' so I said, 'Let me put together a proposal at least. I've got you a couple people locally that you can call as far as foundries goes and I've got some sculptors I can call as well … So I went in and pitched and they had arrived at an idea already and it was the same thing that I already had, so it wasn't very tough for them to see that maybe I can do this. And I had already begun working on the head for that Maquette and so when we had our second meeting I showed them and they said, 'Well, if we can reach the right number [financially], and the sooner we can raise it the better.'
As the artist, there are a lot of voices you have to consider, right?
As the artist, I've kind of taken over as the point man, management for this whole thing, and of course I'm beholden to Mike Maglieri and what they want to do, and Lemmy's family. We're trying to do our best through their management and through his real friends to make sure this looks like the guy that you know. And I was able to go meet with Pascal [Davayat], Lemmy's boot maker, to get the templates for his boots and take pictures of stuff that he's worked on and go to his shop and get a feel for what it's supposed to look like. And we can have a conversation and he can tell me if it's not right, because he wants it to be right. It's not going to hurt my feelings and we needed that relationship. And because of that, I've met a really great artist. He's awesome and the stuff he does is amazing. So we're gonna work together and do some other things.
But we're just trying to make it right because we want to honor a guy that's been good to so many people and has been good friends of good friends. That's what made me want to do this. It's a passion thing. The fans raised the money. Katon De Pena came up with the idea and got the compassionate care thing together and we actually hit our goal and went over $20,000 and took the additional money and they're going to donate it to fight cancer through the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund.
Did they give you parameters? Do you do a young Lem, old Lem? How was the look chosen?
Yeah, that was a little bit of a debate. I think the main thing is they wanted to find a picture that typified him. I mean that's an atypical look for a person, but it typified him. And I know they were searching for that hat-coat combo and Robert John had taken so many good pictures of him and I think that was about the time that they were at the Grammys and "Ace of Spades" was re-charting and there was really a resurgence for him and you can see that it was a happy time and he looks healthy and good. We just wanted to stay away from portraying him in a way that wouldn't be proper, and he needed to be rocking, a tough looking dude with a full face and that was the idea. There was initially some debate about would he be with a guitar, would he be sitting at the bar, would he have a bottle of booze and there were a lot of different options there, and coincidentally enough, even the photo that Robert took [that the statue is based on], he's standing there smoking a cigarette and we took that out, more of a liability reason, because someone could break that joker off or get caught on that. We don't need lawsuits or anyone injured or definitely have the statue damaged on top of anything else. But there was a lot of consideration that went into this thing and everyone involved, their number one focus was honoring Lemmy.
You've lived with this statue for months now, but what will it feel like for you when you're finally able to share it with the public?
It's gonna feel so good, and it's gonna feel good for a lot of people. I want to see my mom's face, my families' faces and my mom especially. They've supported me in every way in everything I've ever done and these last ten years have been filled with ups and downs and they've been there for me. I want them to see that all that time and money they've invested in me since I was a little kid is paying off and that this is a project that's a big deal. And I want my nephew to see that if you want to do something, you can get out there and do it. If you want to do something artistic, you've got to really want it.
I'm looking forward to seeing Cheryl's [Lemmy's widow] reaction. Mike and them at the Rainbow have already seen it, and I think she's seen it, but I'm not sure if she's seen the finished copy. She previewed part of it and was up there to see the shrine the other day and thought it was great. I don't know if Lemmy's son has seen it, but I want to see his reaction and I hope he likes it. He's a Facebook friend, Paul, and seems like a really nice guy and I want him to like it. And I really feel like the fans are going to be excited. I showed Katon De Pena the final product and he's probably the biggest Motorhead fan I know.
Are there certain things on the Lemmy statue that capture your artist's eye and really stand out to you?
One of the big deals to me was respecting the other craftsmen that Lemmy respected enough to have them do his stuff for him -- stage wear and daily wear -- because I think those guys are true artists. I told Pascal that several times, and he's like, 'No, I'm not an artist. I'm a craftsman.' But I told him, 'You may be a craftsman, but you are an artist.' And it was just important to me that the boots looked right, that the stitching was right, that the heel was right. I'm proud of that because that was a lot of emails, a lot of photographs and a lot of time and yelling [laughs] and I'm glad that it turned out right.
The other thing that I think is really great, talking about the eyes, where they did this technique where they punch out the pupil and make it appear as though there's a black dot there and it's all done with distance and shadow. It takes a very careful hand to do that and they did a great job and it looks like it follows you a little bit.
You've been a part of the Los Angeles scene for awhile now and I'm guessing you've met Lemmy at some point ….
Oh yeah, briefly, but he wasn't my best buddy or anything like that. But he was a close friend of my close friends [the Maglieri family] and the one day I really had an opportunity to sit there and talk to him, he was being bombarded by people that wanted to talk to him, so I didn't want to break his balls and let him play his game. But he was there all the time, and you just kind of take that for granted. But the one regret I really have was not going to the birthday thing … and I should have, because it would have been good to shake his hand one more time.
What was your introduction to Motorhead?
First time I ever heard Motorhead, I was probably in about sixth or seventh grade and I had a buddy of mine and his brother had this Camaro and we were in junior high together and he was in high school, so I would ride with him and that's the cat that was playing that kind of music. I remember trading a tape, it was a new tape and I can't remember the band, but I traded it for one of the old tapes and it was Motorhead. But you've got to understand, like my mom and dad, they don't want you buying that kind of stuff. I mean I had to break their arm to buy GN'R like later, in the '90s, so a lot of times we'd get another tape and dub over the top of that tape and we would just know what that tape was just so it would be whatever they thought was suitable. But I do remember listening to him, so when I moved to L.A. that's one of the things that was kind of rad, that he was actually hanging out at the Rainbow.
Looking at some of your other works, I see John Lennon, Ray Charles, Nikki Sixx, Kid Rock, Slash. Obviously music is a big draw, but how do you choose your muses?
Some of it is commissioned stuff, like Nikki Sixx is a good example. That is one that was commissioned by Mike Maglieri for Nikki. But I listen to rock and roll. A lot of times the pieces that are being completed, I'm listening to the act that's in them. I kind of consider what I do -- sharpism -- as playing jazz. I just let whatever come out and it becomes this other image.
Obviously, I've been in there drawing Lemmy and we've got a set plan for this show I've got coming up, but there will be some stuff, the sharpism stuff, that just flows. Some of the better stuff does just flow like jazz or like a cloud. You can see what you want to in it. But it's all music driven. Music is such a part of everybody's life. I mean, I'm in awe of seeing an amazing performer play the guitar because I'm a horrible guitarist. I can't sing. I can't carry a tune. I may know most of the words, but I may come in late some of the time. So it's amazing to me in the same way as when you have a conversation with someone who does that really well and they're in awe of another artist doing something else that's gifted. That's important, and I think it all goes hand in hand, and not just because musicians want to be artists and artists want to be actors and actors want to be musicians, but because it does go hand in hand, it sets the mood. It's a way to get through the day or relax or speed up. I love working to music and most of the time I was working on the Maquette, I was listening to Lem. I was listening to Motorhead, Ozzy, I was listening to heavy stuff and working and if you watch the time lapse, it's just perfect.
Tell me a little about your show the day after the unveiling.
Well first on Wednesday the 24th is the unveiling at the Rainbow. And I'm hoping that people get there a little bit early because it is going to be a crowd. Jack Daniels is dropping off 44 cases of Jack Daniels, so you do the math on that one. And then around 7:30 or so they'll get the actual dedication and unveiling out of the way. I would imagine Mike Maglieri will have something to say, and maybe Todd Singerman and/or Cheryl and the family members might have something to say and I'll have some thank you's but please get there early. Uber or Lyft for your safety please. And it'll go on to whenever, but I'm hoping that people will also be aware about my show the next day.
We're going to do a VIP, invite thing, starting at 8 with a red carpet at 9 and general public at 10. There's an open bar with Jack Daniel's and we're going to be featuring their liquors. We're also going to have crazy DJ Katon De Pena, the crazy bastard that helped raise the money. He's going to be DJ-ing. The cat from Hirax. He's pretty rad and he's from Long Beach. He does a lot of stuff and spins at the 'Bow and he's going to do some stuff for us and we'll go as long as they let us go. The party is going to be at Art on Scene at 8521 W. Sunset Blvd. there in West Hollywood. It's a brand new gallery with two fabulous women who run it and I'm just looking forward to it.
You'll have some stuff with Lemmy, but will there be other things on display?
Yeah, the title of the show is going to be titled Lemmy Kilmister: A Tribute to the Master by Travis Moore and we're hoping we'll have a mini-Lemmy museum, some of his personal items and some artifacts. The maquette will be there on display that we used to make the statue. There's going to be some limited-run artwork. There's going to be Motorhead, Lemmy-associated pieces and a vast majority of all of the art will all be Lemmy. But there will also be a section on the influences of Lemmy and those influenced by Lemmy, so you'll see some of those artists featured too. And there will be some art about Los Angeles as it kind of became his second home. It'll be a Rainbow, Sunset Strip, Los Angeles, Motorhead heavy show and the more Lemmy's you drink the better the show will be [laughs]. So come early and have a couple of free Lemmys on me. We're also going to make some live art that night, and I've been guaranteed that one of the panels off the shipping crate for the Lemmy statue, we're going to take that panel and doctor it up and do some live art while DJ De Pena is spinning. And we'll have some of the other celebrities in attendance do some live art on that as well before we auction it off. So don't miss that.
There will be a lot of replications and don't feel that this will be art that is not affordable. There will be plenty of sketches, paper, posters and every major piece you can get as a replication. Just ask. But there's something for everyone to take home.
And come check out the art and just know that a portion of the proceeds are going to be donated to charity. We're working closely with a couple of charities. One is my charity, Loss Angeless Clothing and the Dreams Closet project to clothe kids and one is the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. And this is a one day only show, so be sure to come out. You can't come the next day.
Our thanks to Travis Moore for the interview. There is a week full of Lemmy Kilmister tributes in the Los Angeles area, beginning with 'Ultimate Jam Night' providing "A Tribute to Lemmy" on Tuesday (Aug. 23) at the Whisky-a-Go-Go with Rex Brown, Dug Pinnick, Tracii Guns, Frankie Banali and more among the special guest performers.
Then, on Wednesday (Aug. 24) at 7PM at the Rainbow Bar & Grill is the unveiling of the Lemmy Kilmister statue as part of the Lemmy Lounge. As Travis stated, make sure to get there early and get your spot to see the Lemmy statue unveiled.
And finally, on Thursday (Aug. 25) at Art on Scene at 8521 W. Sunset Blvd, Travis Moore will be hosting 'Lemmy Kilmister: A Tribute to the Master,' which will include a mini-Lemmy museum, Lemmy artifacts, some live art that will take place and plenty of Lemmy-related art that you can view and purchase.
To learn more about Travis Moore and view more of his works, be sure to visit his website at paintingsbytravis.com. And check out the gallery above to see some of Travis' creative process and works..
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